Injuries force Pitino to adjust lineup

Louisville's most recent injuries to Mike Marra and Peyton Siva will likely force Rick Pitino to re-shuffle his lineup, particularly this Saturday at Butler.

Louisville's most recent injuries to Mike Marra and Peyton Siva will likely force Rick Pitino to shuffle his lineup, particularly this Saturday at Butler.

The Cardinals, 2-0, will be without Marra, who is out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in UofL's 68-48 win over Lamar. Pitino could also be without Siva, the team's starting point guard, after the Seattle native sprained his ankle in practice this week.

With backup point guard Elijah Justice nursing a groin injury that has limited his effectiveness and quickness, Pitino said during his weekly radio show on 84 WHAS Wednesday night that sophomore guard Russ Smith, who has moved to shooting guard, could see action at point guard this weekend. In 23 minutes this season, Smith has three assists and three turnovers.

Pitino said Jared Swopshire could also slide over and play some minutes at small forward in Marra's absence. Swopshire, who sat out last season with a groin injury, has come back strong early this season. He's averaging 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds through two games.

"You don't really compensate for these losses," Pitino said. "What you do is get guys to fill roles. We're going to be playing Jared Swopshire a little more at the three spot."

A tough non-conference schedule that features Butler, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Long Beach State and Kentucky, combined with injury problems has Pitino preparing for a tough pre-Big East stretch.

"We're going to take some lumps with this type of schedule," Pitino said. "But the most important thing with this basketball team is to get in the tournament, try to win your league and by the end of the season with all the help we have on the way I think we could be a very dangerous basketball team."

Pitino has been pleased with the play of Swopshire and freshmen Chane Behanan. Behanan leads the team in scoring at 12.5 points and rebounding, hauling down 12.5 boards per game.

"If I had to say right now who is playing the best on our team it's Jared Swopshire. Who is playing the best statistically is Chane Behanan," said Pitino. "Those two guys are playing outstanding basketball. So to get those guys playing together a little bit is going to benefit us."

Despite an outstanding start to his college career, Pitino believes the 6'7 Behanan is just beginning to realize his potential.

"He's just tapping his potential," said Pitino. "He's physically doing a lot of things really good, much better than most freshmen. But he has a long way to go from a fundamental standpoint. That's where he'll improve as he learns screening and boxing out that will make him a better rebounder and basketball player."

Though Swopshire isn't as a good a passer as Marra, he could potentially provide more scoring and rebounding at the small forward position.

"He's a good offensive scorer," said Pitino. "He's worked very hard. He has a nice game putting it on the floor. He's not a big assist guy, but he's also not a big turnover guy."

Though Louisville has been hit hard early this season with injuries, Pitino will eventually get most of his injured troops back. One player, reserve center Stephen Van Treese, could make his debut Saturday against Butler after missing the first two games with a knee injury.

"We just got Stephen Van Treese back and he's ready to go," Pitino said. "He looks great in practice."

Pitino will also get forward Rakeem Buckles back next month, and is excited about the addition of guard Kevin Ware, who will join the team Dec. 14. Though Ware, a Top 100 recruit who was cleared academically to play this semester, must learn the system, he brings needed athleticism, length and versatility to the backcourt.

"He's going to have to learn all the offenses and defenses," said Pitino. "I'm not sure what position he'll play. I think he'll play multiple positions. Athletically it will take him only a week to get into the shape and condition. But our system is complicated. It's not an easy system defensively."

How quickly can Ware make an impact?

"It depends on what type of mental aptitude he has, what type of conditioning he's in," Pitino said. "Those are all questions you can't answer until you get players in (practice)."

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